I recently returned home from my annual trip with my sister. This year I planned it all and surprised her with unusual places to visit. I’ll be sharing more about some of those places in upcoming posts.
I had to start sort of at the end of our adventure with this post because this incident impacted me in a way I can’t seem to shake. It was just a few moments out of a 4 day trip, but left a lasting impression. Most of you might say, “So what?” And I don’t really know why I thought it was so interesting, other than I enjoy trying to figure people out.
So here is what happened. Don’t blink or you’ll miss it.
My sister and I had just visited a museum in Chinatown/Seattle. We wanted to also visit the historic Panama Hotel about 6 blocks away and decided to walk. Feeling a little out of our element (okay, a lot) and as though we had stepped into another world, we carefully felt our way through the streets lined with tiny restaurants with cooked poultry hanging in the windows.
We turned a corner to walk the last 3 blocks, and in front of us, about 1 ½ blocks away, heading for us, was a tall 40ish aged man in tattered clothes and a scruffy face. Not so unusual – there were lots of transients in the area. Just one thing about this guy freaked us out a little. He had his arms straight above him in the air, and he kept them there all the way down the street. It looked as though he probably always had them in the air.
As he approached, we fidgeted inside, wondering what was going to happen when he reached us. The closer he got the more I realized he was smiling. At us. A big smile. When he was within 3 feet or so he stopped and said “Jesus loves you dear sisters.”
I slowed my steps, smiled and said “Yes, and He loves you too.” The look of surprise on his face was priceless, almost charming. It was as if I was the first person, perhaps in a very long time, to respond positively. He grinned and said what seemed to be a heartfelt thank you. His penetrating eyes reflected a kind of strange joy I can’t forget.
Anyway, we laughed as we walked the rest of the way, but I couldn’t help wondering how a silly short encounter with a crazy guy could be a highlight of our trip. I think it’s because it was unexpected in every way. And I wonder how differently I would have felt if he had said something different to me, or if I had not responded to him.
I was reminded of all the unusual people Jesus came across. He knew who they were and it didn’t matter to him if they were crazy or sane. He treated them all the same.
The 15 second encounter was a lesson in kindness for me.
I hope it was for the crazy guy too.
Ever had a bizarre encounter like this?